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Evaluating Resources

Bias and Agenda

Sometimes it is easy to spot bias and agenda, for example in a political campaign speech, other times it is very difficult to determine.  Bias can appear in all types of publications, even in academic journal articles.  So, as an academic writer you must always be aware of how an article is written before using it in a research project and how you yourself are writing to ensure you are not advancing an agenda unknowingly.

Ask Questions!

Always look at materials with a degree of skepticism and evaluate the entirety of an item's contents before using it as source material.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Was the material written, published, or funded by an individual or organization with an agenda or conflict of interest?
  • Does the publication of this material serve to advance a particular purpose?
  • Does the author use strong or emotional language, present opinion as fact, or employ the use of stereotypes?
  • Are there any flaws in the selection of source materials or in the argument or experimentation which might suggest a deliberate attempt to support a specific opinion?
  • Does the material appear to be an advertisement for, or against, a particular product, service, or organization?

Verify Claims

Remember, the presence of a cited resource is not a guarantee that the references are credible, or that the author used the resource in a manner that is complete, accurate, and in context.

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